Allama Iqbal's Legendary Urdu Poem, 'Shikwa' with Manchester Camerata

Bradford Literature Festival Presents World Premiere of Live Symphonic Fusion of Classical Islamic Music and Western Orchestral Classical Music
June 5, 2023

At Mag North we love Bradford - and we absolutely adore the work of Abi Sampa and Rushil - so when we learned that the pair are joining forces with another of our greatest Northern Superstars: Manchester Camerata - for a world premiere of an intensely moving piece of poetry - as part of one of the UK's greatest Literature Festivals (did we mention we love books?), we were over-the-moon.

As you're reading this - and ordering your tickets - advise your Smart Speaker to play Orchestral Qawwali - and we defy you not be entranced!

Bradford Literature Festival is proud to announce the world premiere of the first-ever live symphonic interpretation of Allama Muhammed Iqbal's iconic Urdu poem, Shikwa. Taking place on Friday, 23rd June, at the historic St George's concert hall in Bradford, this event will showcase the junction of the city's rich past with its vibrant present. 

The esteemed Manchester Camerata, renowned as "Britain's most adventurous orchestra," will mesmerise the audience with a unique musical experience.Vocalised by the talented Abi Sampa from The Orchestral Qawwali Project The Voice UK, the composition is the brainchild of multi-disciplinary artist and composer, Rushil Ranjan.

Abi Sampa

Shikwa, originally penned in 1909, offers a blend of classical Islamic and Western orchestral classical music. The performance features a captivating musical score and poetry recitals in both Urdu and English, expressing the collective grievances and disillusionment of the Muslim world.

The piece is structured as a symphonic poem made up of six separate movements; an orchestral rendering of the stanzas of Shikwa (the ‘Complaint), authored by one of the East’s most significant intellectuals, Sir Allama Muhammed Iqbal

As the first ever Urdu symphonic poem, Shikwa promises to be an eye-opening event, transcending borders and showcasing universal themes of identity, faith, and existence. It bridges the gap between classical poetry and music from diverse cultures, fostering unity and understanding.


Limited Shikwa tickets are available on the Bradford Literature Festival's website. Given the anticipated demand, early booking is strongly recommended.

For more information about the Bradford Literature Festival, please CLICK HERE 

Syima Aslam, Founder & Artistic Director, Bradford Literature Festival: “I am excited and proud to premiere an original production of Allama Muhammed Iqbal’s legendary Urdu poem, Shikwa (Complaint), at Bradford Literature Festival 2023. Composed by Rushil Ranjan, performed by Abi Sampa, commissioned by the Manchester Camerata Orchestra, and performed at St George’s Hall Bradford. It is a world-class collaboration that we know will delight Urdu-speaking and classical music fans alike.”

Rushil Ranjan, Composer, Producer, Dhamma Records: "Shikwa is inarguably one of the most defining pieces of Urdu literature ever written. Our symphonic exploration and expression of it will, I hope, bring together different musical worlds and act as an access point for different communities. To be able to perform and create this piece with the full and unwavering support of an orchestra as dynamic, pioneering and accomplished as the Manchester Camerata is a true privilege. I can also think of no better or more fitting forum to host this genre-defying piece than the fantastic Bradford Literature Festival. It is without a doubt one of the most important cultural events in the country and truly embodies the spirit of inter-cultural connection that is at the centre of this piece.

Samantha McShane, Creative Director, Manchester Camerata:  “Collaboration is part of our lifeblood here at Camerata, and we believe that our collaboration with Bradford Literature Festival is key to our development as an organisation and an opportunity to meet and connect with new audiences. To be working with such esteemed artists as Abi Sampa and Rushil Ranjan to bring this brand-new work to Bradford Literature Festival is such an exciting opportunity for us and we look forward to a long relationship with everyone involved. We cannot wait to show the results to our audience.”